Christina's Reviews > Wintergirls

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
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's review
Apr 10, 09

it was amazing
bookshelves: topics-in-literature
Read in April, 2009


Before Reading:
At the YA Literature Conference on April 1st, I had the opportunity to listen to Ms. Anderson talk about her new book. She mentioned the research and letters she received from young girls across the country about their struggles with anorexia and bulimia. I believe these issues have a place in the classroom in some form. I am excited to read the book after listening to Anderson's presentation.

During Reading:
I am enjoying Anderson’s voice and tone she creates throughout Wintergirls. To me, Lia is both the protagonist and the antagonist because her condition is affecting so many people around her negatively. Her concept of self image is severely distorted and she lacks confidence to change her situation before it gets out of control. So many young girls today are in situations like Lia’s. They don’t have an outlet to discuss the feelings they have, so they believe in punishing themselves and those around them. Lia even goes to the extreme end of manipulating her parents by tampering with her weigh ins and finding ways to look as though she’s gaining weight: “I race downstairs to the laundry room as far away from Jennifer as I can get. I turn on the tap, lean over the sink, and guzzle until my belly is a big water balloon. I sail on the tide toward the kitchen, heavy –loaded with ballast, waves splashing” (45). These lines address issues facing teens today while simultaneously allowing us to discuss grammar and literary devices relevant to the ELA classroom.
Lia struggles to cope with her best friend’s recent death from bulimia complications because she feels like the death was her fault. The girls had made a pact to be the skinniest girls in school; they were competing so much to become “skinniest,” they grew apart. Cassie’s body was found in a hotel room after she hit rock bottom and Lia did not answer any of her phone calls. Lia associates food with when she was a “real girl,” not a wintergirl. She says, “When I was a real girl, Thanksgiving was at Nanna Marrigan’s house in Maine, or Grandma Overbrook’s in Boston” (29). Her self-esteem reaches a low point because of her parents divorce and the overwhelming influence their careers have over their daughter. She reminisces about having the choice to go to both grandparents’ home and eating Thanksgiving dinner, not starving herself during this time. She misses the comfort feeling food brings to families who stay together.

After Reading:

It is rumored young adult novels do not contain enough information to analyze or investigate when compared to other “classic” texts. Wintergirls succeeds in developing an interesting frame story about the serious side effects of constantly obsessing over weight. Teens of all ages and backgrounds can relate to one of the themes in the novel. Lia struggles to find mechanisms to successfully cope with her friends’ recent death, her parents divorce and inaccessibility, and her stepmother’s new role. There are other protagonists males can relate to like Lia’s friend Elijah who works at the hotel where Cassie was found dead. He would love to have parents who cared about him like Lia’s. When she compares situations towards the end of the book when she’s “unthawing” or healing, she realizes she might now have it as terrible as she thought.


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message 1: by Darren (new)

Darren Solid and thorough review of the text, which would seem to have a great deal of relevance to adolescent readers. I'd be very interested to hear about your future use of this book with students...not only in its engagement potential, but with some of the cross-ELA possibilities you mention...discussing sentence structure and literary concepts through modeling sentences/passages from the text, for instance.

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